Written by Manoj Tiwary
It was sheer necessity that made me experiment bowling side-arm off-breaks like Kedar Jadhav. Predominantly, I’m a leg-spinner, but in IPL few showed faith in me, which was understandable because in crunch situations captains always preferred the specialist than a part-timer. Then I started thinking differently, kuch alag karta hoon jismein at least it will be difficult for batsmen to pick.
Suddenly Kedar’s action sprang to my mind. I had seen him on TV, how his action was confusing batsmen and he was getting a lot of wickets. So I thought of experimenting with it. If I can bowl even two overs in IPL then my chances of playing would improve. So I began trying this during the Ranji Trophy and Syed Mushtaq and soon, I realised the benefits and figured out how to optimise it.
It’s most advantageous when the pitch doesn’t offer much bounce. It’s not meant for true wickets with (uniform) bounce. Moreover, it’s most effective against players from Australia, England or New Zealand, who are historically susceptible to spin bowling. Asian batsmen wouldn’t face many difficulties because they’re used to facing a variety of diverse spinner on cracking or slow surfaces.
The biggest benefit of this type of bowling is the natural angle — it’s released from slightly above the shoulder. For the right-hander, it goes away and the inverse for the lefite. So the batsman is naturally drawn to the angle and make their initial foot-movement accordingly. The deception begins as soon as the ball lands — ball gir ke idhar ya udhar jaati hai, tab paon batsman ka us taraf nahi jata hai (when the ball turns one way or the other after landing, the batsman’s front foot follows it). He will be in a tangle. That is why you see Kedar getting lbws and bowled. Often, the ball doesn’t bounce as high as other bowlers. But if the wicket is good, then you should keep it as a stock ball. For a change you can bowl normally, which is important because if you don’t bowl variations, you become repetitive. A good batsman will figure you out.
However, the action puts a lot of stress on the body, especially the lower back. You have been bowling in a particular way all these years, it’s ingrained in your muscle memory, and now you try a different action. It naturally hurts the back — I always used to wake up with a stiff back. Besides a strong back, you need to have strong legs because the entire body weight is down on the legs when you bowl. Strong legs give you the balance. Literally, you’re squatting and there is no follow through as such. One needs a lot of practice and self-confidence. It’s not easy to bowl it day in and out, especially in a pressure situation. But with masseurs and physios, players needn’t worry about it these days.
So India should be judicious in using Kedar—he shouldn’t be used more exhaustively against non-Asian teams because they’ve little idea of playing him and their feet don’t move in the line of their ball. And many batters don’t sweep as well. So Kedar will become more dangerous.
“Foreign batsmen pehle he apna paon badha dete hain ( foreign batsmen move put their front foot out too early) that’s why Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal are so successful. Even when the batsmen are able to read the googly, they don’t use their feet on the line of the ball. You need to come closer to the ball and foreign teams pehle line dekh ke khelte hain. —(As told to Devendra Pandey)